Monday, May 18, 2015

Impromptu Poetry

Poetry has a way of cropping up in unexpected places. Yesterday, in celebration of a dear friend's birthday, I went into Port Townsend. We saw the Rhody Parade.

We attended a cake picnic (and community dance party).

We went to a carnival.

View from the Ferris wheel.

And when wandering through the Farmers Market, I met this woman: Afrose Fatima Ahmed.

She was typing out name-your-price poems on a portable typewriter. I was impressed both by her ability to focus in the midst of the market noise and by the quality of her lightning-speed work. Her website contains some brief information about what she refers to as her "impromptu poetry."

I find this idea of a poem written instantly and then cast outbread upon the waters, no copies saved, no revisions madeboth intriguing and terrifying.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015 Update (May)

It's been. . .that kind of week. So instead of focusing on things that I'm behind on, let's look at my progress on unnecessary goals. (Can I get a self-delusional "Wooo!"?)

Here's an update on my PopSugar Reading Challenge. Books read previously are in green (and mentioned here). New reads are in purple (with pictures).

1.       A book with more than 500 pages (The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, 512 p.)
2.       A classic romance
3.       A book that became a movie
4.       A book published this year
5.       A book with a number in the title (Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal)
6.       A book written by someone under 30 (Relish)
7.       A book with nonhuman characters (Bone: The Great Cow Race)
8.       A funny book (Hyperbole and a Half—Allie Brosh)

Sort of cheating since I haven't quite finished it yet, but it's the first book that's made me laugh out loud several times.

9.      A book by a female author (Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal—G. Willow Wilson)
10.   A mystery or thriller (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union)
11.   A book with a one-word title (Trillium by Jeff Lemire)

All the other "one-word title" books I read had long subtitles. Posers.

12.   A book of short stories
13.   A book set in a different country (Behind the Beautiful Forevers)
14.   A nonfiction book (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas)
15.   A popular author’s first book
16.   A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet (Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang)
17.   A book a friend recommended (In the Open)
18.   A Pulitzer-Prize winning book
19.   A book based on a true story (Gaijin: American Prisoner of War)
20.   A book at the bottom of your to-read list (At Home by Bill Bryson)

Bryson made the history of cement and Western sewage as interesting as possible. But this wasn't even my first pick for a Bill Bryson book. If my book club hadn't chosen this 500+ page tome, maybe I could have finally finished Moby Dick.

21.   A book your mom loves
22.   A book that scares you (Through the Woods)

I'm not going to admit to being scared exactly. But this one didn't make my "before bed reading" list.

23.   A book more than 100 years old
24.   A book based entirely on its cover (Mister Orange)
25.   A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
26.   A memoir (Relish)
27.   A book you can finish in a day (Return of the Dapper Men)
28.   A book with antonyms in the title
29.   A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
30.   A book that came out the year you were born
31.   A book with bad reviews
32.   A trilogy
33.   A book from your childhood
34.   A book with a love triangle
35.   A book set in the future
36.   A book set in high school (Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal)
37.   A book with a color in the title (Little White Duck)
38.   A book that made you cry
39.   A book with magic (How Mirka Met a Meteorite—magic not explicitly mentioned, but a witch turns a meteorite into a person)
40.   A graphic novel (Relish)
41.   A book by an author you’ve never read before (Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal—G. Willow Wilson)
42.   A book you own but have never read (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union)
43.   A book that takes place in your hometown
44.   A book that was originally written in a different language (Mister Orange—Dutch)
45.   A book set during Christmas (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas)
46.   A book written by an author with your same initials
47.   A play
48.   A banned book
49.   A book based on or turned into a TV show
50.   A book you started but never finished

That's twenty-six down, twenty-four to go. How are your reading goals for the year going?

Images from Simon & Schuster, Vertigo, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How I Celebrate National Poetry Month

Just because April is almost over doesn't mean that I'm done celebrating.

Of course, I've been celebrating by reading and writing poetry. But National Poetry Month is also about sharing poetry, so for the last two (going on three) years, I've also done the following:

After the third attempt at photography, I was like "Maybe the air in here is just blurry."

The other side looks like:

Throughout the year, I write down lines of poetry that capture me. And when April comes, I hide them away in various places for members of the unsuspecting public to find.

Like many of my ideas, this tends to work better in theory than in practice. This year, I didn't get around to finishing all my cards until yesterday, so I've only hidden five so far. Also, even when I finish my cards in time, I tend to forget I have them with me. (I carried fifteen to church today, and I left with the exact same number.)

Sometimes, I worry that the only people who will find them will be much-put-upon custodians, who will slowly grow to hate both poetry and April. ("Another flippin' index card?! April is the cruelest month.")

But I do like finding small, beautiful things in unexpected places. And I doubt I'm the only one.

There's still some April left. So let's see if I can dispose of fifteen more cards before May 1st. Any ideas?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quick Update and More Shameless Self-Promotion

Between a stubborn illness and editing deadlines, I haven't had much time to even think about blogging. However, since some people (i.e., almost two people) asked about places to find my poetry, I'm happy to use that as an excuse for a post.
My Easter-themed sugar cookies. Because I'm almost as proud of these.

I currently have three poems in the most recent online edition of SNReview, which can be viewed for free.

I've also placed second in the 2015 Koser/Lohr Honorary Award contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania Poetry Society. (Later, my poem will be printed in their annual publication, but I don't have any information about dates yet.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy National Poetry Month, Happy Easter!

April is National Poetry Month.

The Academy of American Poets (through offers a list of 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. And Writer's Digest's "Poetic Asides" blog is encouraging people to write a poem every day this month through daily prompts (and contests).

Later in April, I will write about what I do to celebrate this month of poetry.

But right now I'm the middle of celebrating something even dearer to me (though I find it impossible to separate poetry from the Gospel). Happy Easter, readers!

The exterior of "Crossroads: Where Art and Passion Meet," a yearly Stations of Cross through art in Port Townsend, WA.
With friends Heather and Vicky. (Thanks so much for taking me!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Storybook of Misused Words (Part Two)

I forgot to blog last week.

I had a deadline, and my grandma came to visit (which was wonderful), and blog posts were the last thing on my mind.

Instead, I played this card game from Atlas Games:

The rules say that winning in one round is incredibly rare and unlikely (and if you've played it before, you'll know why), so of course, that is what my grandmother does the very first time she plays.

I guess I'll just have to write two posts this week. For now, here's another tale from

The Storybook of Misused Words
"An Intense Story of Somber Purpose," 
or "The Difference Between 'For All Intents and Purposes' and 'For All Intensive Purposes'"

"What are you doing?" the gardener said, as the pixies giggled and tore the roses to pieces.

"Why are you eating that?" he demanded, as trolls gnawed on his wheelbarrow till the wheel was quite crooked.

But the trolls and the pixies continued to destroy his garden and his tools.

"Why won't anyone listen?" gardener moaned. "For all intents and purposes, I might as well be speaking to myself."

Later that day, as he wandered through town looking for pixie repellent and a new wheelbarrow, he stumbled across an unusual shop. The sign read: "Dunne, Dunne, & DUNNE Modifiers: For All Intensive Purposes."

Immediately, the gardener hurried inside and bought several intensive word forms, including some that were quite strange and rare.

When he returned to the garden, he shouted one of his new modifiers at the pixies, "What in tarnation do you think you are doing?!"

And the pixies faltered a little.

So he threw out at the trolls: "How in the Sweet William am I supposed to work if you keep eating the wheelbarrow?"

And then: "Why the Weeping Willow won't you leave?" Followed by "Who the Monkey Puzzle Tree do you think you are?!"

And under this onslaught of strange modifiers, the pixies and trolls fled.

"That was intense," said one fleeing troll to a pixie.

"I think," replied the pixie, "that was the intent."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Storybook of Misused Words

I have been absolutely swamped all week, and I've just emerged from the comma mines to see that I'm late with my weekly blog post.

So here's my version of the handwave-y "I haven't had time to blog" blog post.

From The Storybook of Misused Words
 "A Story about the Difference Between Weary and Wary"

The goose-girl standing by the lake, trying to catch a glimpse of the Fish Prince, was wary of the nearby huntsman holding a giant ax above his head. But the huntsman was weary. His arms were very tired from holding the giant ax.

“My, what a big ax you have,” said the goose-girl, warily.

“All the better to. . . .” began the huntsman wearily before stopping himself. “No. Actually, a tree sprite cursed me to carry the ax like this until people on the Internet learn the difference between words.”

"How wearisome," said the goose-girl.

"Yes, I will beware of all such creatures in future," said the huntsmen, as he stepped into a wherry and rowed away.